Shares of Baidu (NAS: BIDU) soared 6% on Friday, but the pop had little to do with the Chinese dot-com giant's upcoming quarterly report.
A few global consumer-facing Internet companies took off after a Wall Street Journal report claimed that Facebook was just days away from filing to go public. A successful debut in the coming months by the social networking behemoth should boost valuations for the sector -- or so the theory goes.
Baidu isn't a social network. Its bread-and-butter business is manning China's most popular search engine. It has several Web 2.0 initiatives under that realm, but it's certainly not the Chinese social networking play that investors will find in Renren (NYS: RENN) and SINA (NAS: SINA) .
Renren runs the country's top social networking website. SINA operates the Twitter-like Weibo micro-blogging broadcasting platform. For those scoring at home, Renren and SINA shareholders were treated to 26% and 12% surges, respectively, on Friday.
The only real question is if Baidu will deliver monstrous growth or ridiculously monstrous growth when it reports in a few weeks. Analysts see revenue soaring 88% to nearly $700 million for the final three months of last year. They also see Baidu's earnings climbing 82% to $0.91 a share. Unlike global search leader Google (NAS: GOOG) , for which Wall Street has been scaling back expectations in recent weeks, Baidu's targets continue to climb. The pros figured that Baidu would earn just $0.85 a share three months ago. The goal was net income of $0.88 a share just last month.
Bubbling expectations and a percolating share price can be a recipe for disappointment. Here is where Baidu will need to make sure that its numbers are closer to "ridiculously monstrous growth" than merely monstrous.
There will also be opportunities outside of the numbers for Baidu to impress or depress investors. Google has been hiring again in China, hinting at a renewed push for relevance in the restrictive yet promising Chinese Internet market. At the same time, Baidu itself is making its own plans to matter outside of China.
Things should get interesting tonight, and I know which side I'm on.
A bullish call on Baidu has served me well on Motley Fool CAPS over the years. True to the CAPScall initiative, I'm not going to give up on it now. Baidu has soared 1,458% since I recommended it to Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers six years ago, but now it's time to discover the next Rule-Breaking multibagger. It's a free report. Want it? Get it.
At the time thisarticle was published Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Motley Fool owns shares of Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Sina, Google, and Baidu. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
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